In partnership with Football Australia, Disney+ has commissioned a six-part docuseries following The Matildas, the women’s national soccer team, as they prepare for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 on home soil.
The series promises to be the first in an upcoming line-up of Australian productions from the Mouse House, which is set to reveal its 2022/2023 local scripted and unscripted Disney+ slate in the coming weeks.
Until now, Disney+ has only produced one Australia project, documentary series Shipwreck Hunters Australia, from VAM Media and Terra Australis Productions.
The Matildas project adds to an ongoing trend towards sport documentaries by streaming services in this market. Amazon Prime Video has made two AFL-themed doc commissions, Making Their Mark and Kick Like Tayla, as well as cricket series Australia—The Test: A New Era for Australia’s Team. Stan has also recently entered the foray with AFL trade season docuseries Show Me The Money, and upcoming NRL documentary Dawn of the Dolphins.
Disney+’s currently untitled Matildas series will go behind the scenes as the team trains and prepares for the cup, and will track the rise of women’s sport in general. Off the field, it will also highlight how the team is pioneering change, and cover their experiences of the Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup.
Also to be explored is the influence of head coach Tony Gustavsson, and the connection the Matildas have with their fans.
Production is currently underway led by executive producers Steve Bibb and Christopher G. Cowen. Katie Bender Wynn, who previous work includes The Will To Fly, about Australian Olympic freestyle skier gold medalist Lydia Lassila, will direct.
Fremantle and Boardwalk Pictures will lend services.
Bibb, who previously worked with Disney+ on Shipwreck Hunters Australia, said it was a privilege as a documentary maker and football fan to tell the Matildas’ story at this moment in time.
“The behind-the-scenes access allows us to bring this story to the world as we chart the journey of these inspiring women writing the next chapter in their story on the road to the 2023 World Cup,” he said.
Bender Wynn said The Matildas had broken through the barriers for women in sport, but their story has until now never properly been told.
“I’m thrilled that Disney+ is shining a light on this inspiring group of women whose stories are worthy of the biggest platform,” she said.
“On its surface, this is a classic tale about a team of women preparing for the greatest tournament of their lives; but at its core, it’s an intimate portrait of a sisterhood that transcends the game.”
Kylie Watson-Wheeler, senior vice president and managing director of The Walt Disney Company in Australia and New Zealand said: “The Matildas are gamechangers for women’s sport in Australia and around the world. This Australian narrative details the impressive skill, determination, commitment, and stamina it takes in the lead up to the World Cup in 2023. The series transcends football and celebrates the true Australian spirit of the Matildas.”
The series will launch on Disney+ locally in 2023 and be available on Disney+ globally at a later date.